Almost half of all Americans have high blood pressure according tonew guidelines, with cardiologists saying Tuesday it offers an opportunity to promote better health.
Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale University, said the new definition will radically change how primary care doctors interact with their patients. "And yet it carries with it a really high risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney damage, so one of the most important things that I can do as the doctor is to treat high blood pressure and to prevent those things in my patients".
The blood pressure categories have changed under the new guidelines.
The guidelines recommend lifestyle changes, eating a healthy, low-sodium diet, rich in potassium - bananas, potatoes, avocados, leafy green vegetables - weight loss, exercise, and cutting out alcohol and tobacco.
The findings mean that an additional 14% of US adults, or about 30 million people, will now be diagnosed with high blood pressure, bringing the total number to 100 million people living with the condition in the U.S.
"The prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under 45", according to the report.
The new guidelines also emphasize the importance of accurate blood pressure measurements, using an average of different readings at different times. But only a small percentage of those patients will be prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, the association said. Anything above is now considered "elevated" or "Stage 1" or "Stage 2".
Dr Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in NY, said he agrees with the change "because it allows for early lifestyle changes to be addressed".
Experts said the majority of Americans affected won't need medication but will need to make lifestyle changes.
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